Fermenting taste

Tantalize your senses at Cranker’s Microbrewery

The collegiate wasteland moniker and indictment to college students’ better-known nightlife may cease to be the Big Rapids bar scene with the budding of Cranker’s Microbrewery.

A quaint, hospitable bar and restaurant just a walk through Cranker’s diner portion of the conjoined restaurants lies awaiting those who quench a smooth and delectably brewed local treat with a professionally made meal or mug.

Cranker’s Microbrewery, which owner Jim Crank opened in May 2012, offers six freshly prepared signature microbrews year round that have titles which entrench the brews in the Big Rapids community.

The microbrewery also brews seasonal specialty beers with names like “End of the World IPA” and “Crankenstein” or the decadent “Coconut Porter” for their customers. Soon, locally produced Michigan wine will be offered in the restaurant.

The brewery offers deals for anyone who pays to be a Mug Club Member, with $1 off regular pours anytime, $2 off on Tuesdays and $2 off standard Growlers.

Since establishing the Mug Club at Cranker’s Microbrewery, local bars like the Gypsy Nickel Lounge have followed suit with a similar offer. Of the 300 club mugs offered, 235 have been claimed.

A patron at Cranker’s noted bars like the Gypsy Nickel Lounge don’t serve beer as local and possibly as fresh as Cranker’s Microbrewery.

Hopping into the forefront of Michigan’s better brews will be a goal for the microbrews produced by Cranker’s head brewer Adam Mills of Grand Rapids and newly brought-on brewer Bill Gerds. Mills’ fruition for brewing began at his home before becoming a bubbling profession since his addition to Cranker’s.

Cranker’s sole ambition is to assure continued success with the local brewery in the microbrewing scene.

“The fact that somebody cared enough to bring that here, the fact that he had the vision to see this area needed this and that [Jim Crank] is willing to invest himself in the community like this, I’m very appreciative of that,” Ferris graphic design graduate and Big Rapids native Phil Neumann said.

Cranker’s recently attended the eighth annual Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival of 2013, Feb. 23 at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, where employees mingled with some of the 75 microbreweries’ staff in attendance and served several festival goers with a well received response, according to Cranker’s serving staff.

Cranker’s microbrewery should help persuade any young adult into a night of finer taste, rather than guzzling gallons of Bud Light.

“When I drink Bud Light now, it’s just not the same. It tastes like water,” Ferris junior in manufacturing tooling Samantha Harris said.

Ferris students should come to enjoy what Cranker’s owner Jim Crank has brewed for his hometown and community.

“He saw something in the world that he liked, and he decided to bring that to a place that he loves. He could have gone anywhere. The fact that he wanted to bring this kind of thing to Big Rapids, everybody should take a step back from that,” Neumann said.

Bands have been welcomed warmly to provide ambiance and mood for the establishment’s patrons. Saturday nights feature the bar’s weekly rotation of musical guests, while Thursday night is open mic night for those with liquid courage due to half-off pitchers, shamelessly buzzed talent or a voice that needs to be heard.

If bars or restaurants don’t suit your fancy for alcohol indulgence, Cranker’s has been able to offer two of its select beers in bottled six packs, Professor IPA and Bulldog Red, at Grunst Brothers Party Store and other liquor stores in Big Rapids.

Pint insight

Bulldog Red
An inviting deep amber and ruby-colored Irish Red brew which pours with a minimal head. Smells of sweet malt that imparts a caramel, toffee and dark fruit arrangement of notes tempt the nostrils. The taste plays to the aroma, with medium sweetness provided by caramel, toffee and toasty nut. Paired with medium bitterness, a sweet aftertaste is allowed. Any issues with bitterness resolve.

Big Rapids hometown American Brown Ale pours with a significant and lasting head. The Ale smells like a slightly bitter mocha roast, with heightened sweet malts and caramels hiding the fruity back notes. Tastes similar to the aroma with a toasty overtone on each flavor and finishes moderately dry and bitter. This is an exceptionally well done coffee brew.

Professor IPA
A fruity IPA that maintains a strong blend of citrus and herbal hops wafts to the nostrils. The scent of orange, grapefruit and apricot titilate the tongue before first sip. A 50/50 blend of floral and citrus hops surprises the taste buds. The brew’s slight sweetness is dominated by grapefruit. Carbonation makes the brew prickly quickly. A crisp bitterness subsides as a pint empties. It’s understandable why this brew is a best seller.

Strongarm Stout
A deep, coffee black brew captures the essence of espresso upon smell, and taste holds onto a medium sized head after pour. The brew plays against its name by being a smooth, creamy stout that makes it very drinkable. Appearance and name are meant to deter at first, but notes of malted nut, caramel and chocolate combine effortlessly to remove its bitter profile and allows a patron to enjoy a well-made brown ale.

A light beer with an initial butter and grain taste finishes with a nutty flavor. This Munich Blonde ale lacks bitterness to provide a smooth, tasty and easy finish. It is unlike any light beer I’ve tasted before. This will cause dry mouth; I suggest pairing a cool glass of water with the beverage.

The Local
This California Common inspired brew seems out of place in West Michigan, until you taste what Adam Mills has created. Mills developed a deep burgundy-colored flavor and scent-loaded brew that relinquishes bitterness after a gulp. A malted backbone of toasted nuts and caramel hide behind a floral, fruit punch to the senses. The floral notes predominate in taste, which leaves all bitterness to be cleaned by a lingering hint of mint.